BWG Foods, one of Ireland’s leading wholesalers and retailers, has announced that approximately €25 million will be invested in an ambitious four year sustainability strategy aimed at significantly reducing the environmental impact of its large-scale nationwide supply chain.
As part of the new strategy, BWG Foods is switching to cleaner energies and has committed to installing renewable energy solutions across its operations. The Group has just completed the installation of almost 800 solar panels at its National Distribution Centre in Dublin, making it one of the largest installations of solar panels in Ireland. The installation, which takes up approximately 1,350 m2 of roof space, will have a generation capacity of 250KW, representing enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 50 homes for a year. BWG Foods, working in partnership with its independent retailers, is also currently in the process of installing solar power units across a number of supermarket stores including EUROSPAR in Kill, Co. Kildare, EUROSPAR Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Cobh, Co. Cork, and EUROSPAR Lucan, Co. Dublin, having already completed a number of store installations earlier in the year. To-date, nearly €1 million has been invested in solar installations by the Group, with the average store installation costing approximately €60,000.
The new sustainability strategy was developed as part of BWG Foods’ bid to secure Bord Bia’s Origin Green status, which it has now been awarded. BWG Foods worked very closely with Origin Green, the world’s first national sustainability programme to develop a sophisticated and comprehensive strategy that includes measurable targets around initiatives that will contribute positively to the environment, and also to local communities in which BWG operates.
A core component of the new strategy is to reduce the Group’s energy output and to increase energy efficiency across its entire distribution operation that includes a 240,000 sq. ft. National Distribution Centre, a nationwide network of 22 Value Centre and Cash and Carry branches, and one of the largest delivery fleets in the country that extends to approximately 120 vehicles, along with a number of company owned retail stores and the Group’s head office. Overall, the Group plans to reduce its energy usage by over 10 percent across its entire operations by 2024.
Commenting on the launch of the new strategy, Joanne Mellon, Logistics Director, BWG Foods said, “Our commitment to sustainability is borne out of the desire to always do the right thing by our customers and our communities. We value the importance of reducing our environmental footprint, contributing to healthier diets, and supporting local communities, and this sustainability strategy will enable us to make a significant and tangible positive impact. Our installation of 800 solar panels at our National Distribution Centre demonstrates our ambition to pursue meaningful initiatives that make a real difference.”
BWG Foods is also investing in a new Fronius battery charging system for its extensive mechanical handling equipment (forklifts, pallet trucks, etc.) fleet that will reduce electrical output, thus reducing carbon emissions by 170 tonnes per annum. It will also invest €500,000 in a new fleet of mechanical handling equipment that boasts market leading energy efficiency technology. Over €2 million is also to be invested in the continued rollout of LED lighting across the Group’s retail estate, having already invested €2.5 million in energy efficient lighting.
BWG Foods recently became the first FMCG company in Ireland to launch a fleet of new CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) and Biogas vehicles, in place of traditional diesel fuel. These vehicles significantly reduce the carbon intensity of BWG’s expansive distribution operation, generating C02 savings of up to 22 percent per CNG truck, and 90 percent per biogas truck. Cleverly, BWG Foods contributes food waste from its distribution operations to produce biogas fuel for its new biogas vehicles, making this a circular solution. Through a variety of efficiency changes, BWG Foods is also reducing the number of Kilometres travelled by approximately 12 percent, leading to an equivalent percentage reduction in carbon emissions.
As part of its new sustainability strategy, BWG Foods also plans to significantly reduce its waste output, with targets of a 15 percent reduction at its National Distribution Centre and 10 percent at Group level. The Group has also set out a number of sustainable sourcing, health and nutrition, and community related targets.